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Pennsylvania Superior Court panel reverses priest's child endangerment conviction

When parents leave their children under the supervision of teachers, caregivers, church leaders, and other responsible adults, it’s important that they have complete trust in them. Unfortunately, these adults sometimes abuse their positions, and children may be mentally, emotionally, or physically abused as a result. Nevertheless, before convicting someone of a sex crime, which comes with serious consequences, it is important for Pennsylvanians to remember that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

For the first time in the United States, a church official was charged with a crime over his handling of child-abuse allegations. Although he had never been accused of abusing any children, a Roman Catholic monsignor’s leadership position enabled him to assign priests to various churches in the Philadelphia diocese. According to prosecutors, the monsignor deliberately reassigned priests to new parishes after they faced allegations of child abuse. The monsignor was ultimately convicted of child endangerment.

After the monsignor had served 18 months of his three- to six-year jail sentence, however, a Superior Court panel reserved his conviction; he is scheduled to be released from jail. The Superior Court reasoned that child endangerment charges are typically used for parents, guardians and caregivers, who often have more control over their children’s activities and whereabouts. The monsignor, on the other hand, may not have had the ability to prevent abuse from occurring.

It is unknown whether the monsignor plans to return to his duties after he is released from jail. Thankfully, when people have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, the mistake can be corrected. Anyone who has been accused of sexual assault, solicitation of a minor, or other sex crime may want to seek the help of an attorney.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Pennsylvania court reverses church official’s conviction,” Maryclaire Dale, Dec. 26, 2013

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Gregory R. Gifford
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